Provincial Court during COVID-19

Provincial Court
COVID-19 Provincial court
At this time, family trials and trial continuations in BC Provincial Court are proceeding in person as scheduled unless one of the people involved isn't available, or if not enough judges or court staff are available.

All family hearings (short appearances), family management conferences, family settlement conferences, and family case conferences (CFCSA) are going ahead by audioconference or videoconference as scheduled. See the court notice Court Operations During COVID-19 for more information.

Most Provincial Court family proceedings are now being held virtually, including short hearings, conferences, and pre-trial applications. This means you'll "attend" court by receiving a phone call from the court, or by joining a conference call through Telus, or an audioconference or videoconference through Microsoft Teams. See Provincial Court virtual proceedings for tips on how to prepare for a virtual court appearance.

Trials are generally the only matters being heard in person, unless a judge orders otherwise.  They'll be on the trial list on the date scheduled. Go to court in person (with your lawyer, if you have one) on the date scheduled at 9 a.m. to tell the court if you’re ready to go ahead that day. The court will decide which trials will proceed. Witnesses and anyone who has a lawyer must wait outside the courthouse (within a 30-minute distance) and be prepared to go to court in person.

If you want to remotely attend a trial or trial continuation that was originally scheduled to be heard in-person, you may apply to the court to do so by filing an Application for a Case Management Order (Form 10), or an Application for Case Management Order without Notice or Attendance (Form 11), or an Application for an Order (CFCSA Form 2). See the court notice Default Method of Attendance for Certain Court Appearances.

Before making an application, you (or your lawyer) must:

  • contact Court Services Branch and ask if there are enough resources at the your court location for a virtual hearing; and
  • make sure that all parties have the technology needed to appear remotely.

Even if the technology is in place, the Court can refuse an application for remote attendance at trial. See the court notice Court Operations During COVID-19 for more information.

For information about child protection hearings, conferences, and trials, see Child protection during COVID-19.

COVID-19 public health guidelines

At this time, wearing face masks in Provincial Court buildings is recommended but not required. However, a judge, judicial justice, or justice of the peace may require masks to be worn within their courtroom. Face masks and hand sanitizer will be available.

There are no requirements for health screening, physical distancing, or capacity limits at courthouses. All courtrooms continue to have plexiglass barriers.

Filing documents

The Provincial Court registries are open for in-person filing of documents, although the court still prefers remote filing methods — by email, mail, or fax or by using Court Services Online.

To file family law forms online or by email, you can use an electronic signature — except for affidavits and financial statements, which must be signed by hand (see the next section). An electronic signature can be a scan of a handwritten signature or a signature drawn with a stylus, trackpad, etc. It doesn't include a typewritten name or signature using a digital ID. (See the Provincial Court Notice FAM 10.)

All deadlines for filing court documents were temporarily suspended but began running again on March 25, 2021. If you’re unsure of any time periods related to your family law matter, contact your court registry. It's important to file documents on time and to appear in court when required.

Affidavits and financial statement

As of May 17, 2021, you can file the following signed documents without first swearing or affirming them if it's medically unsafe or not possible to meet with a commissioner of oaths:

  • Affidavit — General (Form 45)
  • Financial Statement (Form 4)
  • Guardianship Affidavit (Form 5)
  • Application About a Protection Order (Form 12) if you're attaching Schedule 1

When you go to court, the judge will likely ask you to swear that the contents of your documents are true.

To file sworn or unsworn affidavits and financial statements online or by email, sign the document by hand (electronic signatures aren't acceptable). Then scan the document — most smartphones have an app to do this. Fill out and attach an Electronic Filing Statement (Form 51). Keep the original document in case a judge orders you to file later on.

Courts serving remote locations (Circuit courts)

Provincial Court judges, court staff, and lawyers travel regularly to hold court in remote communities around the province. All circuit court matters are proceeding as scheduled.

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to Provincial Court during COVID-19. This video was made in May 2020, and the advice is still current in July 2021. You must still wear a mask in Provincial Court buildings.
Get more help

For more information about Provincial Court during COVID-19, see the COVID-19 page on the court website.